During the ’90s Hart D. Fisher was dubbed the “most dangerous man in comics” and for good reason. He was constantly fighting against the mainstream corporatization of the comic book industry and wasn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers in the process. He was the man responsible for creating the infamous “Marvel Can Suck My Cock” t-shirt, and his body of work through Boneyard Press consistently pushed the comics medium into an adult art form, before it became acceptable for creators to release anything considered risqué. In fact just last year, Fisher’s “Jeffrey Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer” ranked #3 on Bloody-Disgusting’s list of “Top 10 Legitimately Terrifying Horror Comics”. Fisher’s impact on the world of horror comics can still be felt in some of the books being produced today.
Fisher’s passion for the horror genre has only grown stronger since his departure from the comic book world. For the past few years, Fisher has been focused on developing and expanding his 24 hour uncut horror channel American Horrors, which is currently broadcast for free online.
Bloody-Disgusting was fortunate enough to catch up with Fisher to talk his impact on the world of horror comics and he held nothing back. Hart dished all the dirt about his experience in the comic industry, including being blacklisted, banned, and even having distributors burn his books instead of putting them into stores. Fisher gave us the goods and talked at length about the current status of Boneyard Press, and his horror channel, American Horrors.
Bloody Disgusting: In the comics world you’re best known as the publisher of Boneyard Press and the author of the highly controversial ‘Jeffrey Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer’ comic, which was listed as one of Bloody-Disgusting’s ’10 Legitimately Terrifying Horror Comics’. What happened with Boneyard Press and the characters?
Hart Fisher: After the distributor wars of the 90’s resulted in the death of hundreds of stores & contracting the market… it became very difficult to make a profit in the comics industry. I financed things as far as I could but the murder trials had taken their toll & frankly I was pretty burned out on comics, all the negative publicity, I was pretty bored with the status of the industry. I needed something different.
So in 2004 I put Boneyard Press on hiatus and left comics all together to work full time in Adult Films…. And THAT my friends… is a whole other story…
BD: Your antics within the comics industry are somewhat legendary and you were consistently fighting back against companies like Marvel and DC with things like the “Marvel Can Suck My Cock” t-shirt. The comic industry as a whole must have completely hated you back in the early ’90s and did things to make things difficult for you. Is there anything that stands out as completely crazy that happened from that era now looking back after all these years?
HF: When Capital City Distribution burned over 1,200 copies of Jeffrey Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer instead of shipping them out to the retailers who paid for them… now that… that really stands out to me.
I mean… How the fuck do you deal with that?
My distributor paid me for a book then burned them? The WHOLE ORDER?!? I couldn’t believe it when I got that phone call. I was just reeling. It truly stunned me… that… When the 2nd largest distributor of comics would rather destroy your books, without the permission of the retailers who ordered them. It’s crazy. It’s Anti-Business. How do you answer actions like that?
The shit the industry threw at me was mind boggling.
Then there was the time the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, after having me spend serious cash to fedex legal papers & the comic book to ALL of their board members, told me that they wouldn’t handle my case because they couldn’t get behind my politics…
My politics? What the fuck does that mean? My book as ANTI- SERIAL KILLER, what politics were they talking about? I was a publisher who needed help fighting a censorship suite, they told me to get lost after spending a couple hundred bucks of my $$$.
When the Michael Dianna thing hit, I really held their feet to the fire & told them if they bailed on him, I was going to go public with what they did to me. So they held the line for Mike, I held my line & continued to support their organization.
Another good one was that Golden Apple Comics, the biggest store in Los Angeles, had a manager with a bug up his ass about my work, so he put a ban on all things Boneyard Press. Sure, they’d carry Faust, but not my books. I found that one out when I ran Verotik & got to know all the owners & staff members.
Same thing happened with the largest comic chain in Texas, they out right banned my books too. You couldn’t even special order my books through them. Not just the Dahmer stuff, all of it. It became a knee jerk reaction after the Planet Comics bust in Oklahoma.
Another surreal moment, being on the phone with the desk guy at the store talking to him while the police are there doing their Christmas shopping, stealing as many comics as they could before they took their censorious crusade to Blockbuster & started illegally seizing peoples renting records & going to customers homes to seize copies of The Tin Drum, claiming it was child porn.
That shit went on until the last house on the list… A lawyer for the ACLU put a stop to them, but Verotika #4 with “A Taste of Cherry” is STILL banned as obscene material in the state of Oklahoma.
And the Marvel Can Suck My Cock shirts… I cannot tell you the lengths people went to keep me from selling those shirts at comic conventions. Seriously. The San Diego Comic-Con added six pages of legalise to their vendor contracts to make sure no one could ever pull that prank again. Part of the reason I say FUCK the San Diego Comic-Con, that and the time they billed me for a table I booked that they refused to give me when I showed up at the convention.
I showed up with a big ass corner booth booked. They gave me a rinky-dinky back by the toilets single booth & tried to claim they had no paperwork on my booth. When I did my set up, I found my original booth, empty, no one there. No reason they could not have given me the booth I booked except out of spite. The paperwork I got from them, the bill, proved they had everything because they billed me for the booth they refused to give me.
The moment I got the bill they lied about, I called my bank & halted payment on their check. I’ve never paid to be at the San Diego Comic-Con since, nor will I pay to be there.
HF: For all the movies & fanfare, the comics industry itself is in real trouble.
The leaders of the industry are clueless and have little to no respect for their readers or what they’ve invested into a story or a character… the financial investment these customers have in your characters… The people just dumping years of continuity, throwing personalities into the garbage for a twitter bump? For a blip on what’s trending that day? They have no idea how to grow the market & engage audiences & draw in new readers. If you cannot do that, you’re spinning your tales to a steadily tightening circle.
I mean, who gives a fuck if it’s printed on acid free paper & has computer coloring if it’s only good for a 20 minute wank at nearly 4 bucks a pop. Video games are killing comic books. Hell, I had a damn blast playing the Batman games myself, Injustice, loads of fun.
I give away comic books at Halloween & the kids love it more than the candy, so I know the market is there. It’s up to the fools in charge to get their shit together. Put together an engaging product the kids can afford, in place where they can see it instead of just specialty shops.
Otherwise, it’s lights out guys.
BD: Are you reading any comics at the moment?
HF: Nope, not unless someone gives me a handful, like Will at Avatar does when I see him. Can’t afford em’, because producing TV shows costs money.
BD: Do you think you’ll ever come back to comics and revisit any of those characters you had a hand in creating like “Dark Angel”, “Babylon Crush” or “Bill the Bull”?
HF: My time’s pretty short these days, lots of things poppin’ at American Horrors, but someday, yeah, I’d like to get back to comics & write new stories for my characters.
I miss’ em. They’re a part of me.
BD: Tell us a little bit about your radio show “HART ATTACK” on JackelopeRadio.com….
HF: During the planning stages of the American Horrors TV channel I was working on my own news division that was going to run at the top of the hour every hour kind of like the original MTV news and we were going to call it “Real World Horrors: What You Should REALLY Be Afraid Of…” But the stories my investigators were putting together were so hard core, so damned scary that I thought it would over power the channel. I mean, I had authors like Nick Bryant bringing me some serious heavy stories that people have died over. It was too much. I had to make a decision about just what is American Horrors and its function? I went with my gut, I went with the desire to create the horror channel I always wanted as a horror fan growing up.
Then along came Josh Hadley & Todd Sheets at Jackalope Radio. I respect Todd Sheets body of work & I’d been following his career for years, so when he asked me to host my own show live on Nightwatch, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity for an uncensored voice & a real hard charger in my corner like Josh.
“Hart Attack” was born. It’s a place for me to discuss some of the issues of the day that I think are dangerous to our free society & our country. I stick with populist topics & what I would call regular guy perspective.
Since the launch of the show we’ve helped Dr. Annmaria De Mars & her company 7 Generation Games to reach their Kickstarter goals on their educational video game, we gave support & helped one single mom keep her house from a predatory bank & another single mother on disability get $$$ back from a company that illegally seized her funds out of her bank account when she wasn’t even their customer (Verizon) and we’ve uncovered corruption in Los Angeles City Hall & broke stories the majors didn’t pick up until a month after our coverage.
It’s an aggressive take no prisoners radio show that all about how you get manipulated & deceived, and exploited by the corporations, the politicians, and unscrupulous media both in print and in television. We’ve covered scandals in the horror industry like Lianne ‘Spyderbaby’ McDougall’s plagiarism scandal, Fangoria editor Chris Alexander’s “Fox News Reporter” slip up reviewing his own film in his own magazine under a fake name and have a few future stories involving the horror industry brewing.
BD: You’ve been a huge metal fan and American Horrors broadcasts music videos as well. What are some of the metal bands that are still out there kicking ass?
HF: Well… obviously Danzig, since we do Satanic Sunday with his stuff… Slayer is another no brainer, Phil Anselmo & Down, Dark Funeral, Society 1 (back in the studio right now), Gorgoroth, Doyle’s new solo album kicks ass, my hometown guys in Act of Destruction, Chiildren, I’m a total goddamn Nashville Pussy FREAK, Korpiklaani, not sure if you’d call it metal but Andrew WK, There’s all kinds of great stuff.
That’s the thing, I’m always on the hunt for killer tunes for our productions. That’s one the best parts of this. I get to hear a ton of stuff great stuff, that’s how I came across Act of Destruction. They were home town boys that one of my buddies from High School turned me onto. Thanks for that one Al!
BD: I gotta ask about your thoughts on ‘The Walking Dead’ as the TV series has infiltrated the mainstream in a big way. Is the success of the TV series good or bad for the horror genre?
HF: The success of “The Walking Dead” is one of the greatest things to ever happen to the horror genre; period. They broke through in a big way that is now allowing other visions to creep through on so many entertainment platforms. They’ve kicked open the door so hard, so brutally, I doubt it’ll ever be shut on horror TV again.
Kudos to Frank Darabont for getting the launch right. I don’t know what the back story is over his ousting, but it hurt season two pretty bad. I couldn’t even watch season 2 it was so bad, to me, I can’t believe it didn’t kill the series.
I always think it should be mentioned that before The Walking Dead we had “Supernatural” that had such a following it survived the death of its network & still continues pushing the envelope of broadcast TV horror for a “teen” audience.
You wouldn’t have any of the CW horror teen soap operas without it. Cringe or scream for joy, it all opens up the doors for more horror. It’s all bloody good.